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Iran's Dark Horse Candidates Strive for Victory in Friday's Vote

  • Arash Sigarchi
  • Amy Katz

While the presidential race in Iran appears to be narrowing down between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi, two other challengers are still campaigning hard despite seemingly having little chance of winning the presidency. We present a profile of the two, dark horse candidates: former Revolutionary Guard member Mohsen Rezaei and Islamic cleric Mehdi Karroubi.

Mohsen Rezaei is making his bid for the presidency by campaigning largely on the issue of the country's faltering economy.

"The current government's economic policies are similar to a derailed train," said Rezaei.

He promises to heal the economy. He also pledges to increase the participation of women and youth in key positions of society while strengthening ancient Persian principles.

His emphasis is on forming a coalition government, which would include Iranian minorities and ethnic groups, not just political opposition groups.

Rezaei, a former commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, now serves as the Vice Chairman of the Expediency Council, which oversees disputes between the different branches of the government.

For his part, Mehdi Karroubi is making his second run at the presidency after almost defeating Mr. Ahmadinejad in the 2005 election. Karroubi was reported to be ahead of Mr. Ahmadinejad until very late on election night. Karroubi, who accused Iran's Revolutionary Guard of interfering in that election, says he hopes this will not happen again.

"We started this campaign to have a free and fair election, without the interference of the Revolutionary Guard, the army, anyone," said Karroubi.

In the last election, Karroubi's focus was on the economy. This time it is on domestic and international polices. He is calling for freedom of expression, ethnic and religious minorities' rights, support for labor unions and an end to the government's monopoly on the media.

Karroubi is the most liberal of the candidates and has served in the Iranian parliament as a reformist.

While viewed as having little chance of victory, he has rejected calls by some reformists to pull out of Friday's election to avoid splitting the moderate vote.

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